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Literature has always shared a special space with madness, forming a synergetic relationship. Literature, very broadly speaking, focuses almost exclusively on the human mind and behaviour in one form or another. Felman suggests in the quote above that every literary text communicates in some way with madness, when madness is taken to mean much more than a narrow, clinically defined, psychopathological state. Indeed, what is evident in much post-war British and American fiction concentrating on madness is that it is not always the explicitly psychopathological that forms the focus of the narrative. In fictional texts, it is the individual’s experiences, their accounting for and their interpretation of mental processes and events that are of primary importance. The writers on which we focus throughout this book are largely concerned with the experiences of individuals — how unusual or seemingly inexplicable mental phenomena manifest themselves to others; their relationship to life events; and how encounters with madness are experienced. This chapter starts with a broad overview of the ‘why and how’ of madness in literature. We then draw on two clinical debates that are both illuminated by and argued through fiction. Finally, we explore some of the broad thematic elements that are prominent in post-war UK and US fiction which focuses on madness.
KeywordsBorderline Personality Disorder Antisocial Personality Disorder Borderline Personality Disorder Literary Text Psychotic Experience
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